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Interview: Michelle Walrath and Fran Panniccia, Co-Founders of Organic Krush, Receive Surfrider Foundation Honor

Sydney A. Braat

Organic Krush Co-founders Michelle Walrath and Fran Panniccia. (Photo: Courtesy of Organic Krush)

Organic Krush, a lifestyle eatery founded in 2014, is now officially an Ocean Friendly Restaurant in association with The Surfrider Foundation. This means they have pledged to continue to keep all of their locations sustainable, a very relevant and worthy mission. Co-founders Michelle Walrath and Fran Panniccia have implemented a number of environmentally conscious practices, including the use of reusable foodware, glass to-go bottles for their juices and wellness shots, compostable packaging and much more. This certificate solidifies their hard work and continued effort to help our environment.

We caught up with Michelle and Fran to learn more about this distinguished honor and their future plans for Organic Krush.

Organic Krush utilizes glass to-go bottles. (Photo: Courtesy of Organic Krush)

It's quite commendable that you've maintained such an eco-friendly mindset from the very beginning of your restaurants. Kudos to you! Can you speak to those early stages of the restaurants and why being eco-conscious was and continues to be important to you both?

MW and FP: We had spent so many years leading up to our restaurant's formation, focusing on personal and family practices that contributed the least amount of harm and the most amount of good to our health and to the earth's sustainability. We've always kept plastic and chemicals to a minimum, as we were so worried about the toxic effects of pesticides, GMO's, parabens, etc. It's actually pretty wild: As soon as you commit to choices that have the least negative health effects (for example, no purchasing plastic water bottles), it's this incredible snowball effect of removing one thing after the next from your life, that could cause harm to your health. As soon as you prioritize that idea, you suddenly realize you are causing the least amount of harm to the earth as well. And you start to feel amazing because you no longer have chemicals from cosmetics and paint and cleaning supplies circulating in your bloodstream. It was a natural transition to open a restaurant that was conscious of all of this, and to find alternative ways to serve organic products that had minimal burden on people's health. Organic food is grown with the respect of farmer's health and love of the earth in mind. It should be served in packaging that does the same: glass bottles, biodegradable straws, compostable to-go container.

Congratulations on your certification with The Surfrider Foundation. Apart from the many practices you've put in place and pledged to follow, does Organic Krush have any other plans for 2020?

MW and FP: We have been planning our first college location for the past couple of years. This is the year! We are pretty hopeful that all the planning will lead to a grand opening in late fall, which will be pretty exciting to be a part of students' wellness stories. Organic, low body burden food, and powerful immune boosting bone broths and juices and smoothies will be a great part of a university student's day!

What is your message to aspiring restauranteurs and entrepreneurs? Being eco-friendly and conscious should be at the forefront of all businesses' minds. Do you have any words of wisdom?

MW and FP: Our landfills are TOO full, and besides the spatial issue, they are leaking so many poisons from plastics and chemicals into our earth and oceans. Guess where those toxins windup? In our air and in our bloodstream. If we don't focus on breaking the toxic cycles now... when will things get better? This needs a team effort like never before.. and we are 100% up the task. If you can't imagine doing every change at once, then each month, choose one aspect you will tackle: plastic bags the first month, straws the next, compostable containers, glass, energy efficient appliances (make sure your thermostat is on a program, you'd be amazed how much electric energy, and money, is wasted during a restaurant's downtime). Perhaps choose one or two items on your menu that you can switch to certified organic (meat!!!!), and ask your guests if they can do without an extra bag, plastic utensils, that extra straw? As restaurant owners, we can be a part of raising the consciousness of our diners, and we find it an amazing relationship between ourselves and our customers, because they know we deeply care about their health.

Organic Krush's Hamptons outpost is located at 207 Main Street, Amagansett. For more information, call 631-527-7717 or visit organickrush.com.

Sydney Braat is a Hamptons-raised and NYC-living journalist. She enjoys splitting her time between the bustling city life and relaxing atmosphere of the Hamptons. When she's not writing, Sydney is traveling. She thrives off of new experiences, cultures, cuisine, and languages. Sydney writes about the arts, philanthropy, food & wine, and shopping. https://www.sosydneyny.com/ sydneybraat

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